University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chapel Hill, said the CMS threatened the health system's eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid after an inspection last month revealed improper use of restraints by hospital police officers in UNC's psychiatric unit. The system said it has corrected the problems well ahead of the April 21 deadline set by the CMS. The agency will follow up with inspections of the psychiatric unit and the rest of the four-hospital, 672-bed UNC health campus, UNC said. Hospital police officers were using handcuffs to restrain violent patients for short periods of time, and patients were sometimes restrained without a physician's order, contrary to government regulations, the system said. New system policies require the officers to use alternatives to handcuffs and only on a physician's order. The inspection was conducted by the North Carolina Division of Facility Services on behalf of the CMS. The state agency referred questions to the CMS Atlanta office. A spokesman there declined to discuss the ongoing case. -- by Vince Galloro
N.C. system addresses patient-restraint problems
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